Having just been off regular duty for nigh on a month to second-shoot a wedding for Kirsten Mavric in South Africa, this post is going to be surprisingly lacking in zebras, or even meercats I’m afraid. Instead, it’s one of my very occasional ramblings on photography and how we approach it. In particular, the issue I want to address is “The Toofer.” *cue lightning strike*
Now this may or not be a phrase that you’ve come across before, but you’ll undoubtedly have either witnessed or actually committed this photocrime yourself. The toofer is when a photographer of whatever category, niche, clique or industry, can’t be bothered to decide between two (or even more) pictures so ends up using both. Before you rush to find examples from me on the AFP site, I can save you the time and declare that yes, I’ve been known to toofer in the past. Recently however, I’ve stopped and I think it’s time we all checked ourselves to make sure we aren’t falling into this bad habit.
You might have read all of this so far and wondered if it really matters. Allow me to explain why it does.
Picture the scene; you’ve just finished a shoot and have started to edit the glorious fruits of your labour. During the shoot, you remember getting a particular angle or moment that just worked so you shot the living hell out of it. That buffer was glowing red hot by the time you finished, and you had chance to finish off your above-room temperature pasty before the data-write light had faded. Now when you’re editing, you find shot after shot that you like but you can’t make your mind up which to release. At this point, it’s so easy to think “if less is more, just think how much more is” and throw the whole lot into the finished mix. This is actually one of the main moments that sets the professionals apart from the amateurs. Why should your client be left to decide which is the best shot? If there’s so little difference between the images to make a choice, there’s no damage in hacking it down to just one, is there?
A simple analogy is to imagine going to a restaurant and asking for something from the menu. When the food arrives, it’s not just one plate but 9 different dishes. The chef is in tow to point out that he was proud of them all but he put marginally different amounts of seasoning in each and couldn’t decide which tasted better. While amusing on the first occasion, you would soon become pretty annoyed that the professional didn’t have the confidence to decide which is the best option. On top of this, tasting nine virtually identical dishes will only serve to dilute the strength of the actual winner. How the hell did I just write a paragraph on chef’s seasonings? I will rely on your discretion and manners to pretend you understand what I’m trying to say.
So next time you’re preparing an edit for your client, picture editor or blog, step up to the plate and make the choices. The internet is full of photographers that churn out countless thousands of images, but for someone to confidently say that a single image is the one that captured it all shows genuine talent.